HomeTennisRafael Nadal reveals his two best Italian Open memories before likely final...

Rafael Nadal reveals his two best Italian Open memories before likely final appearance

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Rafael Nadal has divulged that his two best memories from his career at the Italian Open are from his first two appearances at the event. 

The 10-time champion named his thrilling five-set triumphs over Federico Coria and Roger Federer in the respective 2005 and 2006 championship matches as his standout moments.

Originally, the finals of most Masters 1000 tournaments were played over the best-of-five set format, until it was changed to best-of-three across the board in 2008.

At the 2005 Italian Open, Nadal overcame 2004 French Open finalist Coria 6–4, 3–6, 6–3, 4–6, 7–6(8–6) in an epic contest to claim the historic title on his tournament debut.

The ‘King of Clay’ defended his Rome crown a year later with an equally dramatic and gruelling 6–7(0–7), 7–6(7–5), 6–4, 2–6, 7–6(7–5) final victory against his great rival Federer.

Nadal, who has revealed 2024 will likely be his final season on tour, is set to make what could be his last ever appearance at the Italian Open. The 37-year-old legend will take on Zizou Bergs in his opening match at the Masters 1000 event on Thursday.

READ MORE: Rafael Nadal evaluates his progress and addresses French Open question ahead of Italian Open

In his pre-tournament press conference on Thursday, Nadal spoke about what playing the tournament at the Foro Italico means to him.

“Well, it’s always a great feeling be playing here. The crowd here is very passionate. It’s not a moment to explain all the emotions that I felt in this tournament, this court. Amazing matches with Coria, with Roger the first two times I played here,” recalled the Spaniard.

“Then I was able to achieve that tournament a lot of times, no? Yeah, I mean, is a tournament that is part of the history of our sport. I mean, is a very traditional, important tournament in our tour.

“Yeah, I’m excited and feel lucky to be playing here again at this stage of my career. Yeah, I am motivated for tomorrow and for the tournament.”

The 22-time Grand Slam champion again referenced his first two finals when asked to pick his favourite Italian Open memory.

“Well, I think the first one. I mean, all the unforgettable moments,” Nadal said. “Most of important moments of tennis have been playing in matches best of-five because, at the end of the day, that makes the matches more emotional, more dramatic, the people gets more involved.

“In a way, I miss that past times when we were playing the Masters 1000s [finals] at the best-of-five, those amazing battles that are part of the history of our sport.

“At the end is true that I won 10 times here. But if you tell me my memories, I mean, for me I’m much more fresh the memories of the first two victories in five sets against Coria and against Roger than the other days.

“Even if I had amazing, good matches against Novak, against great players. But that’s what I think the people remember more. Me, as experience, as a player, too. If I have to pick, I going to say the first one and then the second one.”

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic finds an apt word to describe Rafael Nadal at the French Open

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